ACROSS THE GEN­ER­A­TIONS,

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Editor’s Letter -

men have usu­ally wanted to take things apart to see how they come to­gether. This ap­plies to me­chan­i­cal ob­jects as well their re­la­tion­ships. The me­chan­i­cal wrist watch, a turn of the 20th in­no­va­tion on the pocket watch, has proven not merely a con­ve­nient way to be fash­ion­ably late, it is the branded hand­bag of 21st cen­tury mas­cu­line life.

But if Yves was right that fash­ion is passé and style is for­ever, then the wrist­watch is no mere fash­ion but a re­mark­ably re­silient and prof­itable in­dus­try. Ricardo Guadalupe, the dy­namic CEO of Hublot, the per­pet­ual mo­tion com­pany, ob­serves that the Swiss watch in­dus­try in the ’90s was worth sev­eral bil­lion eu­ros. It is now val­ued at around six times the fig­ure then. There is life yet in the small patch of hu­man real es­tate oc­cu­pied by the wrist­watch, says Guadalupe.

But will the in­dus­try sur­vive Sil­i­con Val­ley? The world’s most-valu­able cor­po­ra­tions are vo­ra­cious in colonis­ing the spa­ces they haven’t al­ready “dis­rupted” and mi­cro-seg­mented with big data and big­ger ven­ture cap­i­tal. Across all its price points, even—or es­pe­cially—haute hor­logerie, the watch in­dus­try is un­der­go­ing a sea change in the way its prod­ucts are de­signed, pro­duced, dis­trib­uted and sold. This change has its ori­gin in how they are are now con­sumed, their vis­i­bil­ity in main­stream life, and the so­cial sig­nif­i­cance they have taken on, even for the man who could never af­ford an as­ton­ish­ingly in­ven­tive Hublot time­piece in a sin­gle life­time.

Per­haps one day, with all that data about our­selves that we have given away to the so­cial me­dia plat­forms that sell them to their clients who sell the back to us, we will be able to buy watches cus­tomised by AI and ex­pressed by a 3D printer at the touch of a but­ton. They would be af­ford­able be­cause of a “free” con­tent busi­ness model (be­cause in­for­ma­tion, like a democ­racy, wants to be free, goes one the in­ter­net's great half-truths). But where is the fun in that? Will we care? Mean­while, here is your shop­ping guide. Ja­son Tan Edi­tor-in-chief

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